How to prepare for your newborn session with a toddler

May 15, 2023

You may be a little apprehensive if you plan to include your toddler in their new sibling’s newborn portrait session! As you well know, toddlers are notoriously tricky to direct. So, how do you prepare for your newborn session with a toddler?

Aside from doing your best to ensure your toddler is well-rested and well-fed before the session, there is little you can do to prepare them for the session. The key to a successful session is to prepare yourself!

Here are four things you should know before your newborn session with a toddler:

Parts of your session will feel chaotic.

You know what toddlers are like. Heck, you live with one! When you see photos like the one above on my website, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that your child might come in, sit down and smile for a photo, and then return to playing happily in the next room.

 Well, that’s not how it usually goes. It’s much more likely that your child will be utterly disinterested in sitting down for a photo and will instead be squirming from your arms, throwing themselves onto the bed, racing around the room, or trying to unpack your diaper bag. That is NORMAL, and it’s what I expect and what you should expect too.

It will feel chaotic in the moment and probably feel like we aren’t getting any good photos. I promise you, we are. We may have to work through a lot of this:

grid of toddler squirming in family portrait

 To get to this:

portrait of mom, dad, toddler boy, and newborn

Your toddler may not act as they do at home.

As a newborn photographer, I’ve photographed a lot of toddlers over the years. Very few of them have surprised me. Many, however, have surprised their parents!

Even if your toddler is usually compliant and loves to follow directions (lucky you!), they may not act that way on the day of the session. It’s a new situation, I’m a new person, and they are dealing with a significant change in their lives. 

Likewise, your normally rambunctious toddler may be more cooperative with me. The point is, whatever your expectations are, let them go. 

toddler portrait in studio studio portrait of toddler playing family studio portrait of four studio portrait of couple each holding a child

You are going to love your photos!

I’ve worked with plenty of kids before and have lots of tricks and patience.

Your family portrait might not look like the one you saw on Pinterest, and it might take a couple of attempts, but I promise you’ll love it. 

Photographing your family is all about capturing who you are at this moment. If that includes some wild toddler energy, so be it!

mother holding toddler studio portrait portrait of mother playing with toddler

Ten years down the road, you won’t worry about whether your toddler’s hair is perfectly in place; You’ll marvel at how much your kids have grown.

studio portrait of mother holding toddler and newborn

Want to know more about how I engage toddlers and encourage cooperation? You can read my five tips for including your toddler in a newborn session.

Ready to book a session for your family? Get in touch!

big sister and newborn

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I photograph maternity, newborn, baby, and family sessions in and around Los Angeles. If you're interested in a session, please get in touch.

Ariel Cannon Photography | Los Angeles

Newborn Baby with arms overhead
Baby girl portrait on bed

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